If you need any reminder of just how serious Mother Nature can be, ask this Texas woman. She survived for five days in the Arizona desert after a map snafu led her astray. And she recorded the whole thing.
Amber VanHecke decided to take a solo trip to the Grand Canyon from Denton. The University of North Texas student soon found herself much more engulfed in nature than she intended.
Her whole issue started when she made the decision to fill up a third of a tank instead of all the way. As she entered Arizona, VanHecke figured she’d save a little cash immediately on gas. But when Google Maps told her to turn down the wrong road, everything went wrong.
The road her phone told her to turn off of was actually a pathway on one of Arizona’s largest cattle ranches. Though Google Maps thought she could cut across the desert, she quickly learned that wasn’t the case.
Fortunately for the 24-year-old VanHecke, she packed plenty of water, seeds and dried fruit. Even more fortunately, she had early Girl Scout training and knew about creating signal fires and massive “HELP” signs from rocks.
But just about every other attempt to flag down humans fell short. Until, on the fifth day of being completely stranded and alone, she decided to walk 11 miles in desperate search of cell phone signal.
She also recorded her misadventure. The stark but sad reality was that she might not make it out.
ABC Nightly News documented the whole harrowing ordeal.
Sure, in hindsight it’s easy for us to criticize VanHecke’s initial judgment. After all, she could’ve saved herself a lot of grief if she had just bought a whole tank of gas.
And with navigation, you do need to let better judgment trump Google Maps. (Though, as the rancher noted, several people take the wrong turn every year).
Then, on the other side of the coin, the Texan was in great shape by packing enough food and water. And then conserving it. She actually had enough supplies for another 18 days.
Plus, she made the right decision to leave notes for rescuers and do everything she could to make herself “findable.” Ultimately, she made good choices when it came down to it.